National food shortages impacting local school lunch menus

Local News

CENTRE COUNTY, Pa. (WTAJ) — Shortages in the food supply chain have made their way into Central Pennsylvania school districts and a number of school lunch menus will feel the impact.

Inside the State College Area High School, food storage is stocked. The district said they were proactive and ordered ahead; however, there are certain items they’re having trouble restocking.

“We’ve really had a hard time finding replacements for frozen potatoes, and french fries, and bacon,” said Megan Schaper, director of food services for the State College Area School District. “Students this week are going to start seeing things like a bacon cheeseburger, we’re going to have to do just a plain cheeseburger.”

As for the demand for school lunches, Schaper said it’s especially high as the meal is free again this year through the USDA.

The Department of Agriculture has increased flexibility for federal nutrition requirements in school meals, but while preparing nutrient-dense meals has always been a priority, State College says having the hands to do so has been tough.

“We’re currently down about 10 employees, so one of the ways we’ve been dealing with that is using disposable trays instead of washing trays,” said Schaper.

Those trays, however, are also in short supply, along with a slew of other plastic items.

“That’s been a little difficult,” said Schaper. “Kids are getting iced coffee in a paper cup instead of a plastic cup, but we’re again finding ways to deal with it.” 

Other organizations are also feeling the pressure. The YMCA of Centre County gives a backpack full of food each Friday to students enrolled in their Backpack Program. They reach about 1,000 students throughout the county.

“A lot of those products are getting really, really hard to get, so we find we’re running all over the place trying to get enough food for the backpacks,” said Mel Curtis, director of the anti-hunger program at the YMCA of Centre County.

Curtis said they’ve had to replace some items; for example, ramen noodles with a can of soup.

“But the bad part about it is, we’re adding weight to it, and for the smaller kids, that’s sort of a struggle, we try to keep everything as light as possible,” said Curtis.

If families are struggling to get food on the table outside of school, you can find more information on the YMCA’s food distributions here.

Sign up for the WTAJ Newsletter for the latest local news, weather, and community events that matter to you.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Don't Miss